Shifting Sands

Finding work/life balance in a changing world

We are living in historic times. For many of my friends and colleagues, that metaphorical line drawn in the sand that had separated work from your personal life has been washed away, along with most of the beach. Is there a way to navigate and find a work/life equilibrium?

For many companies and workers, it has been a challenge to work remotely. For workers there may be a series of issues including: poor internet access; loneliness; missing colleagues and having difficulty collaborating/brainstorming; potential wage and hour issues; and having greater difficulty “unplugging” from the office at the end of the day.

So, what can be done? Is there an optimum balance? I believe there is, but first of all, open communication is key. What I mean is, pay attention to the needs of your team and in turn be clear about your expectations. Firstly, communicate effectively and gain timely feedback, for instance working hours and deadlines should be clearly stated and respected by all parties. Secondly, encourage each individual to take an audit of their life at home and at work. An employee may need to assess what improvements need to be done to meet these remote work goals. A company may need to re-align resources; assess efficiencies of information technology, data sharing and communication; and review training programmes. Then the Leadership Team, Marketing and Communications as well as Human Resources, will need to find a way to share and effectively implement these change management strategies.

For employers the issues of trust that an employee is working as efficiently at home can be overcome through more innovative and frequent communication and training. Teams may have to meet more frequently, encourage more ‘face-time’ meetings, assign mentors and ensure that IT systems are optimised. Employers may have to allow flexi-time for working mothers who have to home-school or those with health issues. For years GenXers and Millennials have been moving towards working remotely, but this pandemic has led to a sea-change in attitude.

Shifting Attitudes:
Many employers have had an initial issue of trust with remote work, perhaps thinking that employees are slacking off. However, this is a fundamental error, in fact productivity has been seen to increase during remote work, as has cost -savings, enhanced employee morale, as well as an expansion of recruitment options for the company.

In an October Forbes article, Tom Spiggle, wrote about the silver lining of working from home. “A potential silver lining from the coronavirus is that employers and employees are getting more used to the idea of working from home, with 61% of workers and 50% of employers viewing working from home